In response to COVID-19, FRCOG offices are closed. Staff are working remotely. Email is likely the most efficient way to reach us. You can find our contact information on the Staff page under the About link below.

Building, plumbing and wiring inspectors are available for meetings by appointment only.

All meetings, workshops and forums are cancelled or have been changed to a call-in or video format.  Please look for emails from FRCOG staff about specific meetings or on our calendar at the Meetings and Events link below.

Business Development Resources

Click to download:

Resources and Guidance for Businesses in response to COVID-19 as of January 19, 2021

Schedule of free Western Mass. small business webinars and recorded past webinars. Go to: https://bit.ly/WebinarsList2020

List of business resources (including grants and loans) for businesses in Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire Counties. Go to: https://bit.ly/WMassBusinessResources.

OPEN Grant and Loan Programs:

The US Small Business Administration will soon launch its Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program for eligible small businesses and nonprofits. Eligible applicants will include live venue operators or promoters, theatrical producers, live performing arts organization operators, move theater operators, relevant museum operators, and more. An application deadline has not yet been set. For details go to: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/shuttered-venue-operators-grant#section-header-0

Rural LISC’s Rural Relief Small Business Grant Program is offering grants from $5,000 to $20,000 to eligible small businesses in rural communities that are facing financial pressure because of COVID-19. The last funding round opens on January 26 and closes on Tuesday, February 2, 2021. Priority will be given to businesses in underserved communities, including entrepreneurs of color, and women and veteran owned businesses.  For details go to: https://www.lisc.org/covid-19/small-business-assistance/rural-relief-small-business-grants/

The Massachusetts COVID-19 Innovation Challenge is a business accelerator program to identify and grow Massachusetts based companies developing innovative solutions to challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ideal candidates are entrepreneurs developing connective technologies with the potential to spark economic recovery and strengthen resiliency in the flow of goods, services, and information. The six-week accelerator begins on March 3, 2021 and ends with a final pitch event on April 9, 2021. During this time, entrepreneurs will attend a series of four innovation workshops and gain access to a network of mentors.  The final event will be juried by a panel of independent experts who will award $40,000 to the winning company and $10,000 to the runner-up. The deadline to apply is Friday, February 19, 2021. The competition is supported by the MassTech Collaborative and managed by Lever, Inc. based in North Adams.  For details: https://innovation.masstech.org/challenge-4-connect-tech-innovations

MassDOT has announced new rounds for the Shared Winter Streets and Spaces Program to help municipalities address the challenges of winter amid the ongoing public health crisis by improving public spaces in support of public health, safe mobility & renewed commerce. There are four rounds, with last application round deadline on February 26, 2021. Contact FRCOG Transportation Planning staff for guidance on project ideas. For program details, go to: https://www.mass.gov/shared-winter-streets-and-spaces-grant-program.

The US Small Business Administration resumed the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). “First Draw PPP Loans” can be used by small businesses, independent contractors and the self-employed to help fund payroll costs, including benefits, and may also be used to pay for mortgage interest, rent, utilities, worker protection costs related to COVID-19, and more. If employee retention criteria are met and the funds are used for eligible expenses, the loans are forgivable. The deadline to apply for this round is Wednesday, March 31, 2021. For details: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program/first-draw-ppp-loans

The COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts, like the rest of the country, was declared a major disaster by the federal government in March 2020. As a result, special tax law provisions may apply. According to the IRS, “Depending on the circumstances, the IRS may grant additional time to file returns and pay taxes. Both individuals and businesses in a federally declared disaster area can get a faster refund by claiming losses related to the disaster on the tax return for the previous year, usually by filing an amended return.” For details: https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/disaster-assistance-and-emergency-relief-for-individuals-and-businesses

MassDevelopment’s Commonwealth Places has a new funding round to support economic recovery from COVID-19 through community placemaking. The purpose is to support projects that create destinations for residents and visitors to shop or dine. Eligible applicants such as non-profits and other community groups can apply for seed grants (between $250 to $7,500) or implementation grants (up to $10,000 unmatched, or up to $50,000 matched by crowdfunding donations).  Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis until June 30,2021. For more details, go to: https://www.massdevelopment.com/what-we-offer/real-estate-services/commonwealth-places

The City of Greenfield received a CDBG award to fund the Regional Micro-enterprise Assistance Program for businesses based in 23 Franklin County municipalities – Bernardston, Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Conway, Deerfield, Erving, Gill, Greenfield, Hawley, Heath, Leverett, Leyden, Montague, New Salem, Northfield, Orange, Shelburne, Shutesbury, Sunderland, Warwick, Wendell and Whately.  Eligible businesses with five or fewer employees who are income eligible and who can demonstrate a COVID loss, can apply for a forgivable loan of up to $10,000. Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis until the funds are depleted. The program is administered by the Franklin County Community Development Corporation (CDC). Go to: https://www.fccdc.org/covid-recovery-micro-enterprise-assistance-program/

The COVID Recovery Micro-enterprise Assistance Program is a forgivable loan program for businesses with five or fewer employees located in Buckland, Greenfield, Montague, or Shelburne. Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis until the funds are depleted. The program is administered by the Franklin County CDC.  Go to: https://app.etapestry.com/onlineforms/FranklinCountyCommunityDevelo/MICROApplication-24.html

The Town of Erving has a COVID Micro-enterprise Relief Program that has one remaining $5,000 forgivable loan remaining (as of 1/4/2021) for an eligible business with five or fewer employees located in Erving. Go to: https://www.erving-ma.gov/sites/g/files/vyhlif4401/f/uploads/erving_covid_summary_92120.pdf

The US Small Business Administration has extended the deadline to December 31, 2021 for eligible small businesses and nonprofit organizations to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). These EIDL loans are at a 3.75% interest rate for small businesses and 2.75% interest rate for nonprofit organizations, a 30-year maturity, and an automatic deferment of one year before monthly payments begin. For details: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/economic-injury-disaster-loans

Franklin County Community Development Corporation offers loan financing, direct business technical assistance services, and expertise for food businesses. Go to: https://www.fccdc.org/covid-19-resources/

U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan for eligible small business, non-profits and agricultural businesses. Go to: https://www.sba.gov/page/disaster-loan-applications

Guidance and Reference materials for adapting to COVID-19 pandemic:

Join the MA Office of Travel & Tourism’s new My Local MA campaign! The campaign provides ready-to-use resources for businesses to encourage customers and visitors to shop locally. For more information, go to https://www.lovemylocalma.com/downloads/.

University of Western New England’s Small Business Legal Clinic is accepting applications from entrepreneurs and small business owners seeking free legal assistance for the spring 2021 semester.

Patronicity’s Winter Places: A Design Guide for Winter Placemaking is a free design guide for communities and businesses to create outdoor spaces for commerce and public enjoyment, while being respective of social distancing and other mitigation measures.

BizWorks’ Resource Guide for Businesses offers a quick review of the Commonwealth’s various workforce and business development programs available, including support to avert layoffs, workforce training, workshare (which allows the company to reduce an employee’s hours while allowing the employee to collect some unemployment benefits). Go to: https://www.mass.gov/doc/masshire-bizworks-resource-guide/download

MassHire Franklin-Hampshire Career Center information for both job seekers/employees and for businesses/employers. Go to: https://www.masshirefhcareers.org/

Small businesses can access free online classes in Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, Quickbooks and WordPress for their employees through a program of Greenfield Community Colleges. Go to WorkforceTrainingFund.org to see if your business is eligible and then email non-credit@gcc.mass.edu for more information.

CISA’s COVID-19 resources for farmers. Go to https://www.buylocalfood.org/resources-for-farmers/tipsheets/covid-19-resources/

Created by Safe Supply, an outdoor grocery store in Somerville, the Safe Supply Field Guide is a step-by-step guide for supporting local food producers and providing a shopping alternative during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Go to: https://www.safesupplyfieldguide.org/

Guidance and resources from the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. Go to: https://www.themassrest.org/coronavirus-resources.html

MA Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission’s recent advisories on local approval of outdoor seating, guidelines for patio and outdoor areas, and more. Go to: https://www.mass.gov/lists/abcc-advisories#2020-advisories-

Franklin County Chamber of Commerce hosts a Facebook interview series at https://www.facebook.com/FranklinCountyChamberofCommerce/ and posts business information updates at https://franklincc.org/whats-new-at-the-chamber/273-covid-19-messag.

Small Business Strong is a partnership of banks, foundations and others set up to help women and minority-owned businesses in Massachusetts.  The website includes a list of resources, ranging from guidance on a variety of business issues to loans and grants available to businesses. Go to: https://www.smallbstrong.com/support-services/

Community design inspiration is found in Design for Distancing guide created by the City of Baltimore. Go to: https://www.designfordistancing.org/.

U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA office offers guidance on preparing workplaces for COVID-19. Go to: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/

The international Business Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) offers on how to prepare buildings and tenants for addressing pandemic conditions. Go to: https://www.boma.org/coronavirus

Resources for Freelance Artists aggregates information about various resources available to artists and art organizations. Go to: https://www.freelanceartistresource.com/category/money/

As more funding becomes available, the Tipped & Service Workers Fund will release small emergency grants. Go to: https://ofwemergencyfund.org/

Community Action Pioneer Valley’s Look 4 Help page a wide variety information and resources for individuals and families – https://www.look4help.org/

CLOSED Grant and Loan Rounds:

The MGCC is administering the state’s Sector-Specific Relief Grant Program for Massachusetts Businesses, which seeks to award grants to businesses in need of financial support due to COVID-19 pandemic related loss of income. Restaurants and bars, indoor recreation or entertainment establishments, gyms or fitness centers, personal services, event-support professionals, and brick-and-mortar retailers will be given preference. The application period closed on Monday, January 18, 2021. For details go to: https://www.empoweringsmallbusiness.org/covid-19-response/sector-specific-relief-grant-program-massachusetts-businesses

The Commonwealth opened a new state technical assistance program to support local governments in revitalizing downtowns and commercial districts.  Called Local Rapid Recovery Planning, applications were accepted through December 18, 2020. All municipalities were eligible to apply, and non-profit entities, such as Business Improvement Districts, Main Street organizations or Community Development Corporations, were eligible to lead the planning process with local government support. For more information, go to https://edit.mass.gov/forms/local-rapid-recovery-planning-application.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has launched two new programs to help businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will provide grants of up to $75,000 to eligible small businesses (businesses with 50 or fewer employees) and grants of up to $25,000 to eligible microenterprises (businesses with 5 or fewer employees) to fund certain activities.  The application round opened on October 22, 2020 and closed on Tuesday, November 17, 2020 at 11:59 pm. For details, go to: https://www.empoweringsmallbusiness.org/covid-19-response/covid-19-grants-massachusetts-small-businesses.

The Community Foundation of Western Mass accepted applications for its latest grant round for eligible non-profit organizations impacted by COVID-19 through September 1, 2020. Click here for more information.

Round 2 of Town of Orange’s AGO Small Business Relief Partnership Grant program for small businesses based in Orange had applications due on August 9, 2020. Eligible, Orange-based businesses can be awarded a grant up to $2,500.

U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) closed on August 8, 2020. Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation posted information about the federal PPP, at https://www.empoweringsmallbusiness.org/resources/covid-19-small-business-resources

The latest round of CISA’s Emergency Farm Fund had an application deadline of June 6, 2020. However, they continue to have a robust list of COVD-19 resources and information for farmers at https://www.buylocalfood.org/resources-for-farmers/tipsheets/covid-19-resources/.

FRCOG Publications:

Pioneer Valley Businesses and Organization Survey as of April 3, 2020

Click here for the Findings Report on the Impact of COVID-19: Pioneer Valley Business and Organization Survey

Emergency Preparedness Resources for Businesses:

Whether it is a blizzard, flood, or a hazardous spill, business can’t always control what happens in the future. However, there are steps to be better prepared. And when you can respond and recover quickly, you can get back to business! Information on how businesses can be prepared for emergencies is available at  WesternMassReady.org and Ready.gov/Business, or download the Getting Back To Business brochure (PDF, 875KB).

Business Development Resources:

Looking to start a new business venture?  Or expand an existing business venture? Check out the 2018 Franklin County Business Development Resources Guide  (PDF 2.2mb) to find helpful information and links to organizations that provide technical assistance, training, financing and more!